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Adams expresses reservations for McGimpsey Maternity Proposal

2 June, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan

Commenting on the announcement by the Minister of Health Michael McGimpsey that he is now looking at options to bring forward the maternity unit on the Royal site, including a review of planned use of the new Critical Care building west Belfast MP Gerry Adams said:

“While I welcome the Ministers stated goal of bringing forward a new maternity unit at the Royal I have serious concerns at the proposed option of locating the unit on the top three floors of the new Critical Care Unit.

The Minister’s statement claims that this will bring forward the provision of new maternity services at the Royal but makes no ,mention of the Regional Women and Children’s Hospital.

What is now being suggested falls far short of the plans for a Regional Women and Children’s Hospital and could threaten those plans entirely.”

Mr. Adams said: “While I am prepared to meet the Minister to discuss his proposals I am not convinced that it meets the maternity needs of women or takes account of the desirability of both maternity and children’s services being unified and adjacent to one another in a new regional hospital.
Mr Adams said:
“When a Sinn Féin delegation met the Minister for Health last week, we put to him the need for his department to bring forward an action plan to commence procurement and work on the new regional hospital for women and children on site at the Royal.

The Ministers announcement is not that plan. Instead he is suggesting that the top three floors of the new Clinic Care Unit are re-designated and a maternity unit is installed there.

This option raises many serious questions about the future of the planned education centre and burns unit which would now be displaced.

But most importantly it places a huge question mark over the future of the new regional centre of excellence for women and children which was specifically designed to integrate services and bring together on one site the necessary medical skills for pregnant women and babies.

To put three maternity wards on top of a tower block development does not meet this sensible objective.

Nor does it fulfil the needs of the long-term provision of health services for women and children in the six counties which was part of the planned women and children’s hospital.

Also, the Ministers announcement does not provide answers to other essential questions. For example; will this new unit replace entirely the current maternity facility or is it an addition to the Royal Jubilee?

What the Minister’s statement does indicate is his readiness and his authority to consider re-prioritising available funding. He has indicated also his openness to displace services envisaged for the building of the critical care centre. If he feels that these are no longer priorities, an alternative would be to re-allocate the funding for that work to initiate the new women’s and children’s hospital.

There are other non-core funding streams available to the Minister as well to achieve this goal, including an end to the multi-million pound bonuses for consultants.

As our delegation outlined to the Minster last week, he has the prerogative to move forward the delivery of the new regional hospital for women and children. Now what we need is a thoughtful plan of action to do just that, which can win the support of the Executive and of the whole community.” CRÍOCH

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